Apart from the social stigma, perhaps the most difficult aspect of being a single mother is the stress of carrying the host of domestic and work-related responsibilities as well as sorting out relationship issues with the father/s of their children. These women often have to mind household chores and at the same time come up with the money to pay the rent and take care of the bills. Some of them also face difficulties from irresponsible ex-partners, as revealed by Melody’s account from the yahoogroup AfAmersinglemoms or African American single moms:
“It’s hard doing it by myself, but you know what the good Lord doesn’t give us more than we can handle.
Right now I am working independently from home in the area of entertainment, so that keeps me going. I love my kids to death, and it pisses me off that there dad only wants interaction with them when it is convenient for him. Like you alot of people are after him for money, but somehow they haven’t caught up with him.
You know every other state takes child support seriously, the men get behind they get lock up. But here in Illinois its like they protect them and that is a bunch of crap.
I am looking to connect with other african american moms and talk about our trials and tribulations. Also to get to know one another and form possible friendships. It wouldn’t hurt to get together and have a girls night ocassionally.
” (http://groups. yahoo. com/group/AfAmersinglemoms/message/7) African American single mothers thus faced tremendous pressure from solely shouldering child raising responsibilities, accomplishing duties at home, solving problematic relationships, and having to juggle work at the same time, as shown by Melody’s experience.
Other women, however, could be considered not to be as lucky in terms of opportunities; these women often do not have enough resources and access to send their children to school or put food on the table. Nevertheless, the strength and resilience of African American women can be surprising. In the face of such problems as dual discrimination and the multiple burdens that come with single motherhood, some of them do not feel regret over their decisions and in a way even feel justified and empowered in it: “I am the same way I don’t harbor bad feelings or ill will but it just upsets me when our brothas don’t take care of there responsibilities.
I find it to be sad, but nevertheless I have to keep it moving and continue to be both mother and father. You are so right about Karma, what comes around goes around. Yes, there are alot of us out there struggling to do for our children on are own. ” ( http://groups. yahoo. com/group/AfAmersinglemoms/message/20) Alternative Action While there is a tendency for many African American women to feel a sense of empowerment from proving to society that they are able to support their children, Davis (1998) notes that an increasing number of African American women are experiencing depression.
(Davis 494) Fortunately, most of these women often receive strong social support networks from their families, especially other women, and from the African American community, which gives them a sense of connectedness and value. The growth of the internet has also given these women the chance to build virtual communities with which they can meet and interact with women whose situation and issues are in some way similar to their own.
It cannot be denied, however, that something has to be done to alleviate the already difficult situation of African American single mothers—and the situation of mothers of different racial identity—since racial and gender-based inequalities often hinder them from actively participating in their own development and holistic growth. The National Organization for Women (NOW), for instance, challenges women to get involved in the commitment to “continue to fight for equal opportunities for women of color in all areas including employment, education and reproductive rights. ” (http://www. now.org)
In seeing the realities of African American women, I find that many of their issues resound with my own, that indeed, I am as much a victim of dual discrimination as they are. Although many of our experiences and encounters with the forms of oppression may be different due to the fact that we come from diverse cultures, our realities as women struggling to gain control over our bodies, our thoughts, and our destinies are what binds us, and I think that nobody else will work towards our freedom from racial and gender discrimination except for women themselves.
Boyd, Julia A. In the company of my sisters. New York: Dutton, 1993. Davis, Ruth E. “Discovering Creative Essences in African American Women: The Construction of Meaning around Inner Resources. ” Women’s Studies International Forum, 21, 5: 1998 Dickerson, Bette J. African American Single Mothers: Understanding Their Lives & Families. Sage Publications, 1995. Reid, Lori L. “Occupational Segregation, Human Capital, and Motherhood: Black Women’s Higher Exit Rates from Full-time Employment. ” Gender Society, 16: 2002. Roberts, Dorothy. “Race, Gender, and the Value of Mother’s Work. ” Social Politics: 1995. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AfAmersinglemoms/conversations/topics/20.